LOS ANGELES - The 10 Freeway will be closed indefinitely between the 110 Freeway and Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles, after a massive fire broke out underneath a bridge on the freeway Saturday. Officials announced Sunday how the aftermath of the fire will impact local traffic.
The fire broke out just before 12:25 a.m. Saturday in a pallet yard in the 1700 block of East 14th Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
It was almost as if the stretch of the interstate had become a furnace. LA Fire said the heat from the flames could easily have been in excess of 1,200 degrees, causing concrete to fly off pillars like popcorn. Cars stored under the freeway were scorched; many wood pallets fed the flames. One of the first fire engines on the scene early Saturday morning was also scorched.
"This is one of those heaven and earth moments," California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. Soon after the blaze was put out, the governor declared a state of emergency, freeing up red tape on what could be a complicated situation for money needed to fix things.
"We've already identified 2 million pounds of stall that is available to move in, in real time, so the supply chain issues specific to steel are not an impediment in the short term," Newsom said.
The main concern and the main hurdle to reopening the freeway is the damage to the multiple columns and the deck of the freeway bridge. Newsom said the initial assessment showed that "dozens and dozens of columns" had been damaged, but the freeway's bridge deck was the primary focus.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Fire shuts down 10 freeway in downtown Los Angeles indefinitely
Fire blazes near 10 freeway.
"Our ability to rebuild columns is a much shorter time period than the bridge deck itself," he said.
Before crews can get a clearer picture of how long repairs will take, hazmat crews need to test debris before clearing the area so structural engineers can get a closer look.
"Three hundred-plus thousand vehicles go through this corridor every single day," Newsom said. "It's of significant consequence to the economy, to the health and safety of Angelenos, impact to our schools and vulnerable communities. All of that we take very seriously."
Clean up of the 10 freeway fire began Saturday morning.
After two-plus days of preliminary rounds of investigations, Governor Gavin Newsom revealed on November 13 that arson may have been the cause of the Nov. 11 fire.
"There was malice intent that this fire occurred within the fence line of the facility you see behind me that it was arson and that it was done and set intentionally," Newsom said on November 13.
Until then, traffic through the area will be impacted heavily. Caltrans and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation have announced the following routes to avoid the 10 Freeway closure:
Driving through downtown:
For those traveling east:
- Exit the freeway at Alameda Street and 16th Street. To get back on the freeway, head north on Alameda, east on Olympic Boulevard, and get back on the 10 East on the approach to Lemon Street.
- Or, head north on Alameda, east on 7th and get on the 5 Freeway
For those traveling west:
- Get back on the 10 west by going west on Washington Boulevard, north on Central Avenue and west on 16th Street.
While the closure remains in effect, however, officials encouraged those who regularly travel or commute in or through the area to use public transportation or even work remotely.
"In addition to encouraging Angelenos to take important precautions, we are also hoping for downtown businesses to join us and lean in on work-from-home policies to help alleviate traffic," Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said.
Bass also stressed Sunday that those who still plan on driving through the area should "stay on the freeway and take the route around." Officials encouraged commuters to use the 5, 101 and 110 freeways.
Courtesy: Caltrans District 7 via X
Driving into downtown:
Coming from the east:
- The first exit into downtown is at 7th Street.
- The last exit into downtown is at Mateo Street & Santa Fe Avenue
Coming from the west:
- Officials suggest changing over to the 110 before downtown
- The last exit from the 10 Freeway into downtown will be Alameda Street
LADOT said that additional traffic officials will be placed across surface streets downtown to help direct drivers.
For the most up-to-date closures and detours, commuters can find the state's Emergency Update website at https://dot.ca.gov/fix-10.
For those planning to use public transportation, officials recommended using Metro and their trip planner tool, which is available at metro.net/riding/trip-planner/.
Metrolink has also said it will expand service on the San Bernardino Line beginning Monday. The agency will also increase capacity and run added service on the line to and from the Inland Empire and downtown LA. Six extra trains will run in each direction — three in the morning and three in the afternoon.
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho addressed the freeway closure's impact on local schools Sunday, saying that "our first priority [is] to maintain all schools open."
Carvalho said that the district has identified schools that will be the most heavily impacted, including 9th Street Elementary, 20th Street Elementary, Metropolitan Continuation High School, Inner-City Arts and Para Los Niños Charter. But, he added that students who are bussed from one side of the city to the other can also expect some delays.
"We expect a reasonably normal school day tomorrow impacted by the possibility of some delays getting to school, but then also leaving school."
Anyone with questions for the district can call 1-800-LA-BUSES (1-800-522-8737).
City News Service contributed to this report.